“I desire you to know who I am. I am the Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence… All those who sincerely ask for My help in their work and in their sorrow will know My Mother’s Heart in this place. For I am your merciful Mother, to you and to all mankind who love Me and trust in Me and invoke My help.”
– Our Lady of Guadalupe to St Juan Diego, 1531
The story of the appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe – and the miraculous Image which resulted from these – is quite astonishing. It is a story of motherly compassion, of great trust, and of the power of life over death. The facts of the story are well established and recounted elsewhere and so I will not repeat them here. However, as time goes on science is revealing more and more secrets regarding the ’tilma’ – the fabric cloak upon which the Image of the Blessed Virgin is imprinted, and which is pictured in the image above. In particular, the tilma is filled to the brim with symbolism which places it in the very specific time and place; but the message it conveys extends throughout time and into all places.
At the time, the appearances led to astonishing conversions amongst the indigenous people living around Tepeyac Hill, in Mexica City itself and far, far beyond. The appearances changed that land and it’s people forever. In the centuries since, these appearances have had a similar profound effect on many more people.
Speaking at Mass in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe today in St Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father noted that –
“As we contemplate the image of our Mother today, let us ‘steal’ from God a little of His style; of generosity; abundance; blessing – never cursing; transforming our life into a gift, a gift for all. Let it be so.”
As the Pope Francis said today –
“Looking at the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we see these three realities reflected: abundance, blessing and gift. God always gives Himself in abundance in His blessings.”
The Blessed Virgin brings us Christ the Lord; He is the ultimate gift and blessing of the Eternal Father, and a gift which is given entirely and without reserve. In offering us this divine gift, we are indeed transformed by our acceptance of it – and this leads to life, a life which is eternal and lived in the very presence of God.
The words of the Blessed Virgin to St Juan Diego remind us that no matter what, we have a Mother in Heaven who watches over us and cares for us; we need only turn to Her and ask for that help. Her miraculous image is a very visual reminder of this.